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Outpouring of Generosity from Charitable Vermonters Fuels Record-Setting Year for Giving

King Street Ctr Photo resized

Photo Courtesy of King Street Center

Today, the Vermont Community Foundation announced that its charitable giving hit an all-time high in 2020. Powered by Vermonters who stepped up to help vulnerable neighbors during the pandemic, the Community Foundation, its fundholders, and charitable partners made $31.9 million in grants, more than 90 percent of which went directly into Vermont communities. This represents a 24 percent increase from 2019 and more than a 70 percent increase from 2018 grantmaking. Vermont Community Foundation grants in 2020 also represent nearly a quarter of all annual philanthropic grantmaking in the state in a typical year according to data from the Foundation Center.

“Last year was extraordinarily challenging for so many, but it also revealed the best of Vermonters and the power of what we can do together,” says Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “From college and career training to food access, housing, equity and belonging, wellness, and youth programs—not to mention starting to address systemic challenges that make Vermont uniquely vulnerable to disruptions like the pandemic—the breadth of what was accomplished across Vermont communities cannot be overstated.”

The dramatic increase in grantmaking was driven by the VT COVID-19 Response Fund, through which more than $8.7 million has been granted since the start of the pandemic to support basic needs and fund five economic and social recovery initiatives. At the heart of the Community Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking is closing the opportunity gap in Vermont. As elsewhere, the conditions that hold Vermonters back by geography, by race, and by family background were accelerated by the pandemic and continue to impact recovery efforts and long-term community resilience. Highlights of the Community Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking from 2020 include:

  • A $150,000 grant to the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Principals’ Association, and the Vermont Superintendents Association to facilitate learning around equity, power, and privilege so they can support individual members to implement best practices on the ground. A $50,000 grant to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to support similar work with municipalities.
  • Grants totaling $340,000 to Vermont Technical College ($145,000) and Community College of Vermont ($195,000) to make the seven Best Bet career training programs identified by the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation affordable for Vermonters in 2021. This set of grants also effectively demonstrated to state policymakers how funding from the American Rescue Plan could be used to support college and career training.

Grantmaking from the Community Foundation’s donor advised fundholders also increased, contributing more than $6 million to the VT COVID-19 Response Fund to support a coordinated pandemic response as well as giving directly to nonprofit organizations who are the backbone of Vermont’s communities. Highlights of donor advised fund grantmaking from 2020 include:

  • A new donor advised fund dedicated to racial equity made close to $100,000 in grants to four nonprofits committed to supporting BIPOC communities—Migrant Justice, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Vermont New American Advisory Council, and Abenaki Helping Abenaki (AHA).
  • A $100,000 grant to Capstone Community Action to hire a full-time staff member to coordinate a rural transportation initiative that will provide low-income households access to electric vehicles using a ride share model.

To learn more about the Community Foundation’s grantmaking and how we support individuals with charitable giving, visit or call 802-388-3355.